Turkey, Russia, US army chiefs discuss anti-ISIL steps

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, has made his aim to drive the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) out of territory along the border clear and threatened an advance on the SDF-held city of Manbij.

As the outside powers fighting in Syria step up the fight to crush Islamic State, the battle is laying bare their often-conflicting loyalties.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the military chiefs talked about "the current situation in the fight against terrorist organizations in Syria in the context of raising the efficiency of confronting all terrorist organizations in the future".

The meeting of the top brass came ahead of a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Russian Federation.

Since 2012, Mercy Corps has conducted from Turkey one of the largest humanitarian operations in Syria, delivering urgently needed, lifesaving assistance to 350,000 to 500,000 innocent civilians in Syria each month.

The SDF is the United States' chief ally on the ground and is dominated by the Kurdish YPG militia, a group Turkey considers a terrorist organisation for its ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, March 6 said the US troops are on the western outskirts of Manbij to "reassure and deter", and are making themselves visible by flying American flags.

Speaking in Ankara, Yildirim said Syria needed to be rid of "all terrorist groups" - including Syrian Kurdish militia and IS jihadists.

"There is a need for an effective coordination in the efforts to clear Syria of all terror groups because so many countries are involved there", he said. "If this coordination is not secured, the risk of conflict that is most undesirable may arise", Yildirim warned.

Last month, Mattis told a conference at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels that Russia would have to "prove itself" before the USA and Russian militaries could renew cooperation. The Times of London illustrates its coverage of US and Russian troops in Manbij, Syria, with that very image, noting that this is the closest cooperation on the battlefield between Moscow and Washington since World War II.

The advance is part of a dayslong government offensive against IS backed by Russian airstrikes. Davis said the deployment of small numbers of USA troops in and around Manbij was done under authorities that existed prior to President Donald Trump taking office in January and therefore did not require new approvals in Washington.

Syrian regime forces and their Russian partners represent an additional layer of complexity.

"The PYD (YPG) is as unsafe for our security as Daesh", he said, comparing the Kurdish militia to Islamic State fighters.

Kurdish and Arab Syrians, backed by the US -led coalition, retook Manbij from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) past year.

"The U.S.is working for the formation of a federal Syria", maintained Solmazturk.

Full-scale hostilities between the Turks and Kurds would deal a major setback to efforts to capture Raqqa, according to Joshua Landis, head of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

The Kurds don't like ISIS and the Turkish-backed troops.

The Manbij deployment comes as the U.S. broadens its involvement in Syria. With the U.S. -Russian presence outside the city, the Turks seem to be backing down.

The YPG is the dominant party in a USA -backed alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, now controlling Manbij.

The deployment of USA special forces to Manbij and the arrival of conventional forces elsewhere in YPG territory go against Ankara's hopes that he would reverse support for the YPG.

  • Joey Payne